Kenneth Cohen

The Thief Gets Justice

The Torah speaks of a case of robbery between one Jew and another. When the accused robber is caught, he swears under oath that he did not rob. His oath would exempt him of the accusation against him.

However, if he later admits that he lied under oath, he must return the object he stole, plus add one fifth of the value of the object. He gives this amount to the victim of the theft.
In addition, he must offer a guilt offering, called, Korban Asham. This is the only time in the Torah where a form of a sin offering is offered, where the penalty is not Karet or death by the court. Swearing falsely in G-d’s Name, is viewed as a various offense.

The Torah continues on this subject by instructing that in the event that the victim of the theft passes away, the stolen object and the penalty, shall go to his next of kin. If he has no relatives, the Kohein becomes the recipient of the object and penalty.

The Talmud explains that the Jew with no relatives, is the convert, and we might be speaking of where the convert was the victim of the crime. The thief may have thought that the convert was an easy target, but the Torah makes certain that justice is ultimately served.

This is a reminder that Hashem sees everything and that there will be complete justice in the end. If we realize that there is accountability for all of our actions, it will help us make the correct decisions, as we do what is right in the eyes of G-d.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at